Image: Martin Husár
Reigning World Champion Sébastien Ogier and co-driver Julien Ingrassia have won the 85th Monte Carlo Rally, the opening round of the 2017 WRC campaign.
After a crash hindered Hyundai’s Thierry Neuville from winning the opening round, the Frenchman claimed his 39th career victory in the M-Sport Ford Fiesta. His victory margin was 2 minutes 15 seconds over Jari-Matti Latvala driving for the returning Toyota rally team. Ford’s number two Ott Tanak was hit with engine problems and had to settle for third overall.
The accident involving Thierry Neuville yesterday was a near-disaster but the Belgian managed to crawl the car back for day four and won the final Power Stage earning him five championship points.
It is Ogier however who will be driving away from the foothills of the French Alps with the championship lead, a position all too familiar to the former Volkswagen powerhouse. Elsewhere Dani Sordo finish fourth, only 12 seconds in front of Craig Breen in a 2016-spec Citroen DS3. Elfyn Evans finished sixth overall and earned two bonus points for his fourth fastest time on the Power Stage. Andreas Mikkelsen took seventh overall and the WRC-2 crown with Jan Kopecky eighth.
Stephane Lefebvre leapfrogged Bryan Bouffier and Pontus Tidemand on the Power Stage to finish ninth, shoving the latter out of championship points scoring position. Lefebvre also took home four bonus points for finishing second place on the final stage.
Next on the calendar is the sole purely snow rally of the season, Rally Sweden which kicks off in two weeks time.